Connecting Continents in the Classroom

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in On the Road

There are 8,000 miles that separate the state of Michigan and the East African country, Tanzania, but two high school teachers didn’t let the distance keep them from connecting their classrooms. Debbi Bovio, a Rochester Community Schools art teacher, met Nora Graham, a teacher at the International School of Tanganyika through Bovio’s Student Artist Trading Cards website. They decided to do an international classroom-to-classroom art exchange inspired by Dan Eldon.

Student ATCAfter learning about Dan’s life as an artist, activist and adventurer, both classes created index card-sized collages using colors and cutouts and sent them across the Atlantic Ocean.

“I was immediately drawn to [Dan] due to his connections to East Africa, his commitment to his community and his journals,” said Graham. Most of Graham’s students relate to Dan because, like them, he was a third culture kid making art and adjusting to new cultures. They share his passion to explore different countries around the world.

“Because of the diversity of Nora’s student population, we were actually trading cards with students from all over the world!” said Bovio. She explained that students at this age have a tendency to think that anyone outside their culture is very different, but through shared art and words, they were able to gain some insight into their culture and lifestyle in Tanzania.

The IST students shared the same eagerness to learn about their new friends in Michigan.

“I opened the package from Debbi in front of the class and they all gathered around and watched with excitement,” Graham said.

Through this art exchange, the students were able to cross borders and gain a different perspective of the world from students their same age.

“Nora and I may wish to exchange again,” Bovio said, “But I suspect we will both want to find a new exchange class so we can continue to introduce this topic to students who have not yet heard about the charismatic, inspirational and prolific Dan Eldon.”

To support The Dan Eldon Legacy in Tanzania, please go to and note: Tanzania.

Also, check out great holiday gifts at featuring Dan’s journals for $12 each. $1 from each journal sold goes to support a school in Tanzania!